In the summer of 1914 most of Europe plunged into a war so catastrophic that it unhinged the continent's politics and beliefs in a way that took generations to recover from. The disaster terrified its survivors, shocked that a civilization that had blandly assumed itself to be a model for the rest of the world had collapsed into a chaotic savagery beyond any comparison. In 1939 Europeans would initiate a second conflict that managed to be even worse - a war in which the killing of civilians was central and which culminated in the Holocaust.
To Hell and Back tells this story with humanity, flair and originality. Kershaw gives a compelling narrative of events, but he also wrestles with the most difficult issues that the events raise - with what it meant for the Europeans who initiated and lived through such fearful times - and what this means for us.
'A great achievement . . . There could hardly be a more judicious guide to this bloody terrain . . . a stark lesson in man's capacity for evil.' Dominic Sandbrook, Sunday Times
'Chilling epic-size history . . . should be required reading.' Harold Evans, The New York Times
'The story of how the Old World plunged toward hell for 30 years . . . There is no man better qualified than Kershaw to take us through the dark valleys of the world wars and the two sombre intervening decades . . . fair-minded, deeply researched and highly readable.' Brendan Simms, Wall Street Journal
'A triumph . . . one of a tiny handful of historians whose books will still be read in 100 years.' Laurence Rees, Mail on Sunday
'We are in the hands of a master historian.' Nigel Jones, Spectator